MSc in Urban Land Governance for Sustainable Development: Bridging Land, Water and Natural Resources


Read more about this program on the school's website

Program Description

Study programme

This specialisation track focuses on how land and natural resources are accessed, managed and how these aspects contribute to, or hinder, the development of equitable and sustainable cities. It tackles the importance of land governance in supporting sustainable and resilient urban development in social, economic and environmental terms. Key topics include settlement informality, displacement and gentrification.

The Urban Land Governance for Sustainable Development programme is a specialisation track within the MSc in Urban Management and Development, which offers students the opportunity to tackle the complex, multi-layered challenges of land, water and natural resource management in cities. These challenges are at the root of some of the most pressing concerns facing local governments: local economic development, strategic and physical planning, building social housing, providing infrastructure and basic services, and initiating poverty reduction measures. The specialisation track adopts a governance approach to these issues and it emphasizes the nature and behaviour of urban land governance as well as public and private actors that operate in urban areas such as governments, landholders, real estate developers and land brokers. Students will analyse land governance in connection to: land rights and the rule of law; land markets and finance; and the concept of urban resilience in relation to integrated land, water and natural resource management.

Pedagogical games are an essential component of this specialisation, where participants have to devise strategies that combine various land governance and planning policies and instruments, to bring multiple stakeholders and institutions together to work to address urban and peri-urban social, economic and environmental challenges.

Course Objectives

At the end of the course participants should be able to:
  • Identify, propose and present strategies (regulations, policies, programmes and instruments) to solve problems associated with land rights, tenure and access to land issues in urban and peri-urban areas.
  • Analyse the nature of complexity in urban land markets, and the need for integrated, cross-jurisdiction solutions to land and environmental challenges.
  • Evaluate the multi-faceted principles of “resilience” and “risk” and the application of these principles to land use, water management and environmental policies in urban areas.

How is your year organised?

In the first and second block, the programme shares courses on urban theory, governance, policy, planning, and public-private partnerships, and local government finance and investment with the other specialisation tracks. However, your assignments within the course modules, as well as the action planning workshop, are always track-specific. In the third block of the programme, your courses will only be track-specific with the possibility to take an extra elective course. In the fourth block of the programme you will strengthen your research skills through research methods courses and workshops and write your Master’s thesis on a topic relevant to your specialisation track. Some example research topics are listed below. Other topics can also be accepted if approved by the coordinators of the specialisation track and the thesis supervisor.

Examples of thesis research

Land Rights and the Rule of Law Cluster

  • Implementing mixed-use developments: a property rights perspective, a case study of Kampala Capital City, Uganda
  • Feeling left out: Investigating the perceived failure of Baltimore's inclusionary housing program through a game theory framework
  • Impacts of large scale land acquisition (land grabbing) by foreign investors and city performance towards the land rights of the indigenous people. Case study Nungwi Zanzibar, Tanzania

Land Economics and Finance Cluster

  • Land value taxation and land speculation; the case of Sao Paulo, Brazil
  • Infrastructure investment and land value capture: A case study of Ejisu-Juaben Municipal Assembly, Ghana
  • How investments in urban services can be financed by the land value capture instrument "Sale of Development Rights". The case of Curitiba, Brazil

Land and Water Cluster

  • Blue-Green infrastructure in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam: A MOTA analysis
  • The influences of Sponge city on property value in Wuhan, China
  • Room for the Volcano? Shaping the risk management strategies of households in areas prone to Lahar risk in Latacunga - Ecuador
  • Household context and operationalizing urban resiliency objectives. A case study of autonomous household response in Cagayan de Oro City, Philippines.
Programme Curriculum

Blocks 1 & 2 - October to January

  • Urban Theory
  • Local Government Finance and Investments
  • Action Planning Workshop

Block 3 - January to April

  • Land Rights and the Rules of Law
  • Land Markets and Finance
  • Land, Water and Natural Resources

Block 4 - April to September

  • Research Methods and Techniques
  • Urban Research Workshops
  • Field Work and Master Thesis
    • The research process for the thesis is divided into three main steps:
    • The research proposal
    • Data collection and data preparation
    • Data analysis and thesis writing

Why study MasterUrban Land Governance for Sustainable Development

The way land and natural resources are accessed and managed affects the development of equitable and sustainable cities. Growing urbanisation puts pressure on natural resources, intensifies inequality among city stakeholders, increases the risk of disasters and contributes to unsustainable urban development patterns. Good governance has the capacity to answer each of these issues by addressing the relationships, conflicts and dynamics that arise in urban and peri-urban spaces. In this programme, you will gain the qualifications to become an urban development professional specialised in managing these urban land issues.

"The international atmosphere at IHS made me feel like I'm in one big family. I really enjoyed the innovative learning methods that used games to deepen understanding."

Jeremy Christopher Adinugroho, Indonesia

Urban Management & Development Alumnus

Why study at IHS, Erasmus University Rotterdam?

Earn your MSc degree from a top 100 university

Known for its academic rigour and high quality of education, Erasmus University Rotterdam is consistently ranked in the top 3% of the world’s best universities.

Our teaching methods are unique

Alongside IHS teaching and research activities, our faculty members work in the field on real-life cases around the world. Challenges, learnings, and questions from these different contexts are brought back to the classroom and woven into our curriculum.

You apply everything you learn - no dry theory

Students learn through a blend of lectures, real-life case studies, discussions, debates, simulation environments, written assignments, and group work. Field visits and projects in Rotterdam and other Dutch cities provide first-hand exposure to local urban problems. Students have the option to complete their thesis fieldwork abroad and immerse themselves in a relevant urban context to collect data.

We offer a truly international and diverse environment

The IHS classroom is comprised of mid-level professionals and fresh graduates with rich and varied experiences from more than 45 countries. Typical backgrounds include architecture, engineering, planning, economics, social science, environmental science, and housing.

Study in Rotterdam - a hub of sustainable urban innovation

Iconic architecture, pioneering urban planning, and a celebrated multicultural population have thrust Rotterdam to the forefront of innovation and cultivation within the urban world.

Enjoy guest lecturers from UN-Habitat and other key stakeholders in the urban field

IHS works with global leaders in the field of urban development, including UN-Habitat, Cities Alliance and ICLEI as well as with leading universities in the Netherlands and around the world to ensure additional academic resources for our students.

What are some of the special features of this track?

Next to earning your MSc diploma from Erasmus University Rotterdam, an institution that is consistently ranked among the top 3% of the world’s best universities, studying the Urban Land Governance for Sustainable Development track also means that you will get to:

Apply your learnings in a land court simulation

Students practical experience by applying theory in simulated learning environments such as the land court.

Explore the effects of urbanisation in a lab

Use a computer lab setting to examine the effect of urbanisation on the living conditions for all those living in and around cities.

Benefit from case study-led learning

Learn about urban innovations through field trips across the Netherlands.

Gain skills in integrated management

Learn how to manage land, water and natural resources in an integrated way.

Learn how to use GIS

Use GIS software to explore recent urban development processes in selected case study areas using highly detailed spatial data.

Last updated Mar 2020

About the School

Founded in 1958, IHS is the international institute for housing and urban development of Erasmus University Rotterdam founded. For more than 60 years, it has been our mission to develop human and inst ... Read More

Founded in 1958, IHS is the international institute for housing and urban development of Erasmus University Rotterdam founded. For more than 60 years, it has been our mission to develop human and institutional capacities, to reduce poverty and improve the quality of life in cities. Read less